Simona Halep produces statement straight sets win over Venus Williams to book last-16 match with Serena at the Australian Open
- Simona Halep booked her spot in the last-16 of the Australian Open in style
- Halep put in a straight-set win over Venus Williams at the Margaret Court Arena
- She now faces the other Williams sister in the form of the formidable Serena
Top seed Simona Halep had the odds stacked against her ahead of the Australian Open but the Romanian proved her title credentials with a breezy 6-2, 6-3 third round win over multiple Grand Slam winner Venus Willliams on Saturday.
The reward for the 27-year-old French Open champion is probably the toughest challenge in the women’s draw at Melbourne Park, a fourth round date with the younger Williams sister, Serena.
Coming to the year’s first Grand Slam on a five-match losing streak and without a coach, Halep had to grind her way through the first two rounds with tough three-set wins.
Simona Halep produced a dominant 6-2, 6-3 performance as she booked a spot in the last-16
Venus Williams was blown away by Halep in what was a comfortable round three win
Now without Darren Cahill, the man who helped drive her to winning her first Grand Slam title in France last May, Halep continues to rally on her own with her best performance to date in this year’s tournament.
She started positively against Venus and broke her twice in the early stages to take the first set.
Venus, now 37, showed more fight in the second and there was an early trade of breaks before Halep broke again to go 4-3 up.
Halep is competing without coach Darren Cahill but is showing no signs of lacking direction
Williams tried to rally and take it to a deciding third set but she struggled to contain Halep
But the American resistance was to be short-lived and Halep regained her rhythm and composure to convert her first match point with a forehand winner down the line.
‘I’m very happy with the way I played. It’s always a challenge to play the Williams sisters,’ Halep said afterwards.
On the prospect of facing Serena next, she added: ‘It’s going to be a bigger challenge.’
For Venus, it remains unclear if this was to be her last outing at the Australian Open as she continues to mull over her future in the game.
Halep passed what was said to be her toughest assignment at the Australian Open so far
The future for Williams is unclear at 37 and she may yet have played her last Australian Open